The cinematic adventures of our favorite Marvel superheroes have made a huge impact on pop culture. Characters like “The Mighty Thor” and “Hawkeye” were once only recognized by comic-book geeks, but are now household names around the world. And who do they have to thank? The charismatic “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” Tony Stark AKA “Iron Man.”
If it weren’t for the breakout commercial and critical success that is the first Iron Man movie, Marvel Studios might have killed the ambitious project of creating one unified film universe and record-breaking phenomenon that is The Avengers.
Although Tony Stark is everything above, he still wouldn’t be Iron Man without the awesome armor that has implanted its appearance in the collective consciousness. So let’s take a quick retrospective of the numerous high-tech stylish suits/weapons he’s donned throughout the movies.
Big and bulky, the first ever Iron Man suit was born out of desperation, foregoing everything in the aesthetics department. Simple metal fragments were pieced together to make this an intimidating Frankenstein of technology.
Fitted with bulletproof plating, two flamethrowers, a small missile launcher and enough rockets to send a man flying for one short surge, Tony Stark owes his life to this makeshift metal machine. Building this “in a cave, with a box of scraps” is credit to the man’s unparalleled ingenuity.
With the high-tech materials and machinery available to him in his own workshop, Stark was able to create a brand new suit with only the power source—the arc reactor—intact.
This marvel of engineering protected his entire body, hooked up his digital butler Jarvis through the holographic HUD, and allowed him full flight capability. It also featured the first integration of repulsor technology, thanks to the new and improved arc reactor powering the suit, allowing Iron Man to blast anything to smithereens through controlled bursts.
Sporting a shiny silver human-like exterior, you also knew that he was kicking ass in style.
Unlike the jump from the Mk I to II, the Mk III had only a couple changes, most noticeably the now iconic hotrod red and gold paint job. One important change was the gold-titanium alloy used for the armor to keep it from freezing in extreme cold temperature.
The weapon upgrades were more significant. The MK III added missiles and guns for tanks and armed personnel, respectively. Flare launchers were attached to the hips to confuse would-be pursuers, which were used to great effect when Stark was being chased by American fighter jets in his first outing as Iron Man.
This version of the suit seemed to be merely a visual enhancement of the previous suit. It retained all of the Mk III’s tech and weapon features but had a slightly more angular aesthetic. It also allowed Stark to use the suit with any sort of clothing, unlike the Mk III which required him to wear a skin-tight outfit before putting it on.
In case of life-threatening emergencies caused by mad supervillains, Stark came up with a portable version of the Iron Man armor. It resembles a briefcase which, when activated, turns into a full-fledged protective suit with repulsor tech. No frills here… except for that cool-as-hell red and silver scale-plated look.
Much like the Mk III and IV, it has all those versions’ features with a couple of power upgrades and a slightly different visual design. The round chest cavity for Stark’s arc reactor was replaced with a triangle, and the plates look even more sharp and pointed.
The arc reactor was even more powerful, thanks to a new element synthesized by Stark himself to save his life. It allowed for armor-piercing grenades and single-use hand-mounted lasers that could cut through metal easily.
Having been able to withstand hammer strikes and lightning from the God of Thunder himself, the Mk VI also proved to be more durable than the previous suits.
The latest version of Tony Stark’s armor, the Mk VII was featured in the climactic battle in New York in The Avengers. It has mostly the same look as the Mk VI but reverts to the circular design for the arc reactor while adding patches of silver to its palette.
The most significant change is the armor’s remote-controlled ability to assemble itself onto the user through wristbands, allowing for even quicker suit-ups when the user is in imminent danger. The lasers from the Mk VI can also be used more than once, with its more efficient use of power from the arc reactor.